Welcome to the fifth week of the semester! We’re moving along, with two weeks to go before our “it’s-still-winter-but-we’ll-call-it-spring” break, and this week we’ll spend time with three exceptional historians who explore some carceral formations in the early 20th century.

We start our meeting will our weekly student-led plenary. As you read last week’s analyses to prepare for that discussion, make a special effort to bring forward the topics and ideas we didn’t get to chance to discuss the week before.

This week we’ll also read and discuss three different readings as we delve more fully into the early 20th century. The first is by one of the most talented historians in the field of Latinx studies, Miroslava Chávez-García. “Youth of Color and California’s Carceral State: The Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility” [08_ChavezGarcia.pdf] is a 2015 article that gives you a peak into her 2012 book called States of Delinquency.

The next is “Bananas North, Deportees South: Punishment, Profits, and the Human Costs of the Business of Deportation,” by immigration historian Adam Goodman [09_Goodman.pdf]. And the last is the first chapter from the book Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II, by A. Naomi Paik [10_Paik.pdf].

As usual, you’ll write your next Reading Analysis (your fourth) on the reading.

I’ll be looking forward to our discussion this week. Be safe and be well until then…


Thanks again for the effort and attention to collaboration this last week! Though we’re done reading Lytle Hernández (at least for now), I’m sure we’ll continue to draw from her perspective and analysis. And since she’s the main topic of our next plenary, that’ll be sooner than you think.

As “usual,” we’ll begin our meeting with a plenary on last week’s essays, which are now posted on Sakai. As we discussed briefly, our plenary isn’t and shouldn’t be a static thing. It should be a creative space as fluid and dynamic as the kinds of discussions we have. And so our second plenary is as much an opportunity to build on last week’s strengths as it is a chance to do something different. Come prepared to make your contributions to that effort.

After our plenary we’ll introduce three new authors into our conversation, each grappling with topics or themes presented in City of Inmates. The first is “Taking Native Children,” chapter 2 from a new book by historian Laura Briggs [05_Briggs2.pdf]. The next is by immigration scholar David Hernández, “Carceral Shadows: Entangled Lineages and Technologies of Migrant Detention” [06_Hernandez.pdf]. Its from an edited collection we’ll be drawing from again later in the semester. And finally we’ll read Jeffrey S. Adler’s “Less Crime, More Punishment: Violence, Race, and Criminal Justice in Early Twentieth-Century America,” an essay from a 2015 issue of the Journal of American History [07_Adler.pdf].

You’ll also write your Reading Analysis 3 on these new readings. You can discuss one, two, or all three of those readings, but you’re under no particular obligation to discuss more than one. Our goal with three is the same as it would be with a single author: to engage the readings and develop some kind of analytical perspective in advance of our discussion. Over time, as you become more conscious of how you’re building your own understanding, you might also want to integrate past readings into the mix of the new. Feel free to do so. Collectively speaking, your reading analyses are a record of the reading and thinking you’re doing. So feel free to let them evolve as you see fit, too.

Until next time, be safe and be well…


Thank you for your active participation in our first regular class this week! It was a pleasure to learn with and from each of you. It’s a vibrant demonstration of how we can build a deeper and more complex understanding of the past when we each take care to share our unique perspectives and make the space to hear others do the same. It’s never easy, but you all are making it look and feel that way so far. Keep up the good work!

This week we’ll begin our class with our first student-led “plenary.” (You’ll find our plenary facilitation schedule in our “Readings” folder on Sakai.) Our plenary is a chance for us to build on last week’s discussion by delving into the Reading Analysis assignments you all wrote. I consolidated your short analyses into a single document and posted it to Sakai. You’ll find “03_Plenary.pdf” in the “Plenary Docs” subfolder inside “Readings.”

After our plenary and break, we’ll regroup to discuss more of City of Inmates. This time we’ll read chapters 4-6 and the conclusion (04_LytleHernandez.pdf on Sakai). Draw from these chapters as you write your second Reading Analysis assignment. Please turn in your 1-2 page analysis by adding it to your shared folder and labeling it to make it easy for me to find.

Be safe, be productive, but always be well. I’ll see you next time!


This week we’ll continue reading our first course book and start to develop our seminar practice.

Our reading is the first three chapters of City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965, by Kelly Lytle Hernández. You’ll find it on Sakai as 03_LytleHernandez.pdf.

Your job is to do the reading and then write about it, in your first Reading Analysis assignment. Remember to create your Good Drive folder (named “YourFirstName 127CH”) and to share it with me (making sure to give me “Editor” privileges. Then all you have to do is create a new Google Doc in that same folder.

These short 1-2 pagers are spaces for you to develop your analysis of some aspect of the readings. In that sense, you’re preparing an initial contribution you can make to the class discussion. Be sure to engage with the text as a way of substantiating your claims. In other words, as you explore what some component of this book means, don’t just tell us what you think, give us a taste of how you arrived at your analytical conclusion.

Your primary job for the week is to prepare yourself for our seminar on the reading. The easiest way to do that is to come prepared with ideas, reactions, conclusions, and questions to share. We are engaging each other and a field of scholarship in conversation. The author has started the conversation. How are you going to jump in? Take a look at the appendix of our syllabus if you need more direction.

Finally, we briefly talked about two things in our first class: paying attention to footnotes and reading “more than you’re expected.” As you read these chapters of City of Inmates, be sure to follow her citations, too. There are lots of authors Lytle Hernández references and discusses as she makes her argument. Pick one—ideally one she cites in her discussion of an idea or topic that intrigues you—and try to learn a little more about the work by looking up the book or article she cites.

Congratulations on getting to the end of the first week of classes. I mean, it would have happened even if you didn’t do anything, but you at least showed up. Now let’s dive into this field and see what we can learn. Be well until next Tuesday…


Welcome to the website for our Spring 2021 course “American Inequality” (HIST 127 CH PO).

I’m I’m Tomás Summers Sandoval, but you can call me “Profe.” I’m an Associate Professor of History and Chicanx~Latinx Studies at Pomona College, and the Coordinator of Pomona’s Chicanx-Latinx Studies Program. Most importantly, I’m really excited to learn with you over the next semester!

This website is our primary online home and the main way we’ll communicate with each other when we’re not in class. We’ll use Sakai for only a few things (most importantly, it will be where you access all of your readings for the semester). This website is where I’ll post weekly announcements (right here on the front page) and field any questions that may arise.

In the pages above you’ll find just about everything you need to know about our class: our description and “commitment”; our learning outcomes; assignments; grading policies; and information about our readings. In the password-protected “Schedule” page, you’ll find a detailed list of the work you’re expected to do each week. (The password to access the “Schedule” page is on Sakai now.)

While we hope this semester will bear witness to a greatly improved public health reality––one that will bring us back to the normalcy we all miss––we are still learning together in a challenging time. Times like these require creativity, flexibility, and collective effort. I’ve put a lot of work into designing a course that makes sense for these times, but its success is going to rely on you, too. As we face the road ahead, I hope you will gain strength and purpose from what we know for certain: we are stronger, smarter, and better as a group than we can ever be as individuals.

Our time together begins on Tuesday, January 26 at 12:45 p.m. (Pacific time). You’ll find the information you need to login to our Zoom classroom on Sakai. I look forward to seeing you then.